Here at St Peter’s Prep, we love to recognise and celebrate our school’s achievements and safely getting through the first half of 2020 has been an incredible accomplishment in itself.

Not only has it seen the fantastic flexibility of our students adapting to sudden changes in their learning, but it has also witnessed the sheer determination of our staff to ensure all our pupils receive a safe education at home or school.

Furthermore, it has strengthened our staff and parent relationship. We have seen many of our capable parents balancing the demands of work while ensuring their children remain focussed on their education during an incredibly stressful and worrying time in history; to which we say an overwhelming thank you for your co-operation.

It is an understatement to say that determination and hard work has contributed to the success of St Peter’s Prep during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, you may wonder what physical procedures have been put in place to make this possible? This blog will discuss the great organisation and measures we have introduced over the last few months to ensure the safety of all our staff and students at St Peter’s Prep:

A student learning using online education resources

Online Learning

When social distancing measures were introduced, we smoothly transitioned to online learning so that our students could learn remotely at home. Fortunately, this transition was made that little bit easier as we already utilised the Google Suite for Education.

Our teachers received thorough training and support when setting up Google classrooms, and extensive planning was pursued to resolve the most efficient method of providing online learning. We produced a clear policy which outlined what was required from teachers, pupils and parents.

We introduced an activities programme within the education timetable including online reading schemes and ‘PE with Joe Wicks’ to keep our St Peter’s education broad and balanced. Furthermore, we arranged daily, scheduled online meetings and check-ins with our students to ensure they were feeling comfortable with the new learning process, and could socialise with other pupils.

Confidence in Our COVID-Secure Timetable

Following the success of our online learning programme, St Peter’s Prep is confident that our remote learning curriculum can be successfully utilised in the future, should Government measurements change once again concerning coronavirus. We have produced a COVID-secure timetable which is easily accessible online, should it need to be transferred for remote learning.

Support for Parents

St Peter’s Prep is aware that many of our students have working parents and guardians, especially those who are keyworkers. Because of this, we wanted to ensure that our online learning was as accessible for all family members and created a simple timetable which enabled parents to continue their work duties while supporting their child’s/children’s learning.

For those parents who were keyworkers, our school remained partly open for families who required support during the lockdown.

For those who needed them, we also loaned any educational devices which were required.

Progress of Our Pupils

Despite the understandably stressful situation faced by many of our students, we are delighted with how our students have progressed, as reported by our teachers. Many of our pupils adapted to remote learning with ease, with some academically improving, suggesting that some of our students blossom in an online educational setting.

A map of the UK on an outdoor wall

Following Government Guidelines

With the gradual return of students to the classroom environment as lockdown restrictions changed, St Peter’s Prep worked to ensure all government guidelines were met, producing documentation and adapting operations while ensuring any additional safety measures were installed.

With COVID-19 safety at the heart of our operations, we were fully open to those students who could return to the school environment. Those who couldn’t or did not feel comfortable doing so could still access our online learning tools and receive full education and care.

All current measures are based on the Public Health and DfE guidance, and we continuously review our practices and risk assessments.

Introduction of ‘Bubbles’

As St Peter’s Prep began to re-open, we created ‘bubbles’ of 15 pupils. Our small class sized meant we were well prepared and had the resources in place to enable a smooth re-opening.

Not only did we re-open to Nursery, YR, Y1 and Y6 classes, we ensured all year groups were safe to return and provided measurements to welcome back the whole school, initially for keyworker pupils, but later introducing the return of more pupils.

What Is a ‘Bubble’?

When pupils are designated to a ‘bubble’ they do not mingle with other pupils and staff members who are not included in their bubble.

When the Government confirm that bubbles can be extended from 15 people, it will provide a more ‘normalised’ sense of school. However, we are pleased to announce that our students have taken this social distancing measure on board and have adapted well.

Staggering Schedules

Each eligible group was re-introduced over this time and, once settled, we saw the return of all other year groups. From 1st July all pupils from Nursery to Year 8 were safely returned.

At present, we implement staggered break times, play zones and play equipment for each bubble.

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Rota Systems and Classroom Organisation

When first re-opening the school, our team of dedicated staff returned on a rota system and restricted bus service.

We now have specific classrooms for each bubble of pupils and teachers, which differs from previous arrangements where our students tended to move around for lessons.

Our classrooms have transformed, and some incorporate new safety measurements, including screens. Where teachers are responsible for multiple bubbles, the classes are organised with additional space.

Our outdoor areas now have additional sinks, and bathrooms have been divided between bubbles. Each room is equipped with hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes, and we arrange hand washing for our pupils throughout the day.

Change to Drop Off and Collection Procedures

At the moment, parents cannot come onsite to drop off their children at their classrooms. Alternatively, we have arranged a more structured drop-off and collection system. The school has seen the set-up of large tents, kindly offered to us by the local Royal Marines Training Camp, which keeps pupils safe and dry while waiting to be collected. They are also used for outdoor learning, which has taken on more prominence in our curriculum recently!

Sanitising and Cleaning Procedures

On top of the hand cleaning and sanitising procedures we currently have, we also have a cleaner who remains onsite throughout the day who routinely cleans regularly accessed surfaces and rooms.

Dining procedures have also changed recently with a balance of hot lunches and picnics which are eaten in classrooms and outdoor areas when possible.

Track and Trace

Our thorough organisation means it is easier to track and trace within our St Peter’s Prep community, and we have effectively created our own system. We can prepare for the isolation of individuals should a case of Covid-19 occur.

A group of St Peter’s Prep students smiling outside

Looking After Student Wellbeing

As we approach September, we are dedicated to ensuring that the wellbeing of our pupils is maintained and sufficiently looked after. We have installed many additional activities and pastoral care into our timetables as we prepare for our 2020/21 school year. This includes activities such as :

• Reading and discussion time (including exploring pupil’s thoughts and feelings about the pandemic)
• Yoga
• Outdoor walks
• Organised socialising

St Peter’s Prep takes COVID-19 incredibly seriously and wants to ensure all our students are both physically and mentally healthy and happy. For any queries you may have, please feel free to contact us.

If you are interested as a prospective student, parent or carer, we are also available to advise you on any additional questions or concerns you may have, including the application process, private school fees, lifestyle and education. Our blog on why book a school visit to St Peter’s Prep may answer some of your questions on what to expect from the experience.